Akkad (city)

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Map of the Near East showing the extent of the Akkadian Empire and the general area in which Akkad was located

Akkad (/ˈækæd/; also spelled Akkade or Agade) was the capital of the Akkadian Empire, which was the dominant political force in Mesopotamia at the end of the third millennium BC. The existence of Akkad is known only from textual sources; its location has not yet been identified, although scholars have proposed a number of different sites. Most recent proposals point to a location east of the Tigris.

Textual sources

Before Akkad was identified in Mesopotamian cuneiform texts, the city was known only from a single reference in Genesis 10:10[1] where it is written אַכַּד (Accad).[2] The city of Akkad is mentioned more than 160 times in cuneiform sources ranging in date from the Akkadian period itself (2350–2170 or 2230–2050 BCE, according to respectively the Middle or Short Chronology,[3]) to the 6th century BCE. The name of the city is spelled as a-ga-dèKI or URIKI, which is variously transcribed into English as Akkad, Akkade or Agade.[4] The meaning of the name is unknown.[5] The etymology of a-ga-dè is also unclear but not of Akkadian origin. Sumerian, Hurrian and Lullubean etymologies have been proposed instead. The non-Akkadian origin of the city's name suggests that the site may have already been occupied in pre-Sargonic times, as also suggested by the mentioning of the city in one pre-Sargonic year-name.[6] The inscription on the Bassetki Statue records that the inhabitants of Akkad built a temple for Naram-Sin after he had crushed a revolt against his rule.[7]

The main goddess of Akkad was Ishtar, who was called ‘Aštar-annunîtum or ‘Warlike Ishtar’ and who was identified with the Sumerian goddess Inanna.[8] Her husband Ilaba was also revered in Akkad. Ishtar and Ilaba were later worshipped at Sippar in the Old Babylonian period, possibly because Akkad itself had been destroyed by that time.[4] The city was certainly in ruins by the mid-first millennium BCE.[5]


Black-and-white photograph of a statue consisting of an inscribed, round pedestal on top of which sits a seated nude male figure of which only the legs and lower torso are preserved.
Bassetki Statue from the reign of Naram-Sin with an inscription mentioning the construction of a temple in Akkad

The location of Akkad is unknown, but throughout the years scholars have made several proposals. Many older proposals put Akkad on the Euphrates, but more recent discussions conclude that a location on the Tigris is more likely.[9] The identification of Akkad with Sippar ša Annunîtum (modern Tell ed-Der), along a canal opposite Sippar ša Šamaš (Sippar, modern Tell Abu Habba) has been discredited based on conflicting accounts in cuneiform sources. Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon, mentioned the restoration of temples in Sippar ša Annunîtum and Akkad in the same text, showing that these were separate places.[10] A combined analysis of cuneiform, topographical and archaeological field survey data led archaeologist Harvey Weiss to suggest that Akkad is modern Ishan Mizyad, a large site 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) northwest from Kish.[11] Excavations have shown that the remains at Ishan Mizyad date to the Ur III period and not to the Akkadian period.[4]

More recent discussions have focused on a location along, or east of the Tigris. An analysis by Christophe Wall-Morana of about 90 cuneiform texts mentioning the city of Akkad pointed to a location near the confluence of the Diyala River with the Tigris. Wall-Morana used further historical and archaeological data to suggest Tell Muhammad in the south-eastern suburbs of Baghdad as the likeliest candidate for Akkad. Archaeological investigations at this site have so far failed to find any remains datable to the Akkadian period.[12] Assyriologist Julian Reade suggested that Akkad may have been at Qadisiyah, further north along the Tigris. At this site, north of Samarra and south of where the Adheim River joins the Tigris, a fragment of an Old Akkadian statue (now in the British Museum) has been found that, if complete, would be the largest of its kind. His proposal to identify Akkad with Qadisiyeh supports a slightly earlier overview by Assyriologist Aage Westenholz, who also concluded that Akkad must be near the confluence of the Adheim and the Tigris.[4][13]

See also


  1. Genesis 10:10, King James Version (Oxford Standard, 1769)
  2. Wall-Romana 1990, p. 205
  3. Pruß 2004, p. 14
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Sallaberger & Westenholz 1999, pp. 31–32
  5. 5.0 5.1 Foster 2013, p. 266
  6. Wall-Romana 1990, pp. 205–206
  7. van de Mieroop 2007, pp. 68–69
  8. Meador 2001, p. 8
  9. Wall-Romana 1990, p. 209
  10. Unger 1928, p. 62
  11. Weiss 1975, p. 451
  12. Wall-Romana 1990, pp. 243–244
  13. Reade 2002, p. 269


  • Foster, Benjamin R. (2013), "Akkad (Agade)", in Bagnall, Roger S., The Encyclopedia of Ancient History, Chicago: Blackwell, pp. 266–267, doi:10.1002/9781444338386.wbeah01005 
  • Meador, Betty De Shong (2001), Inanna, Lady of the Largest Heart. Poems by the Sumerian High Priestess Enheduanna, Austin: University of Texas Press, ISBN 978-0-292-75242-9 
  • Pruß, Alexander (2004), "Remarks on the Chronological Periods", in Lebeau, Marc; Sauvage, Martin, Atlas of Preclassical Upper Mesopotamia, Subartu, 13, pp. 7–21, ISBN 2503991203 
  • Reade, Julian (2002), "Early Monuments in Gulf Stone at the British Museum, with Observations on Some Gudea Statues and the Location of Agade", Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie, 92 (2): 258–295, doi:10.1515/zava.2002.92.2.258 
  • Sallaberger, Walther; Westenholz, Aage (1999), Mesopotamien: Akkade-Zeit und Ur III-Zeit, Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis, 160/3, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, ISBN 352553325X 
  • Unger, Eckhard (1928), "Akkad", in Ebeling, Erich; Meissner, Bruno, Reallexikon der Assyriologie (in German), 1, Berlin: W. de Gruyter, p. 62, OCLC 23582617 
  • van de Mieroop, Marc (2007), A History of the Ancient Near East, ca. 3000–323 BC. Second Edition, Blackwell History of the Ancient World, Malden: Blackwell, ISBN 9781405149112 
  • Wall-Romana, Christophe (1990), "An Areal Location of Agade", Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 49 (3): 205–245, JSTOR 546244, doi:10.1086/373442 
  • Weiss, Harvey (1975), "Kish, Akkad and Agade", Journal of the American Oriental Society, 95 (3): 434–453, JSTOR 599355, doi:10.2307/599355 zh:阿卡德帝国